According to Wikipedia, The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief, was first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying.  It describes, in five stages, a process by which people deal with grief and catastrophic loss.

Reactions to unemployment often follow similar steps to the 5 steps of grieving described by Kubler-Ross.

  1. Denial & isolation:  Denial often starts before job loss.  Despite observable signs of separation, employed workers often fail to recognize and act on them.   For unemployed workers it’s important to not only acknowledge what has happened but also to recognize their loss.  Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual.
  2. Many of us regard our work colleagues as our friends and support system.  During times of unemployment or career transition experience we tend to self- isolate.  It’s vitally important that we go out of our way to make new contacts and friends.  This can be done through volunteering, seeking fellow job seekers or strengthening ties with family and friends who have always been supportive. The point is to get out of the house to meet and associate and friends.
  3. Anger – (and resentment) can lose you a potential job. If you’re still carrying anger about people or past experiences, you are sabotaging yourself.  Anger and resentment towards people and employers takes up   time and space.  When you release the negativity, you make space for positive energy to flow through your body.  You can make better use of your time during your job search or career transition if you release that negative energy.  Remember, holding on to the past is only harming you.  Your past employers are probably not focused on you, so why are you carrying it around?
  4. Depression. According to David B. Burns in his book Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy, “…sadness and depression are not the same thing.  Either depression or sadness can develop after a loss or failure in your effort to meet a goal of personal importance.  Sadness comes, however, without distortion and loss of self- esteem.Depression is frozen – it tends to persist or recur indefinitely and always involves loss of self-esteem. It has no adaptive function whatsoever, and represents one of the worst forms of suffering.  Sadness is a natural reaction to job loss and passes with time.  Depression can be ongoing and may need treatment from a trained mental health professional.
  5. Acceptance. It’s hard to accept sudden unemployment or the need for a career transition.  Acceptance, however, releases that negative flow of energy and replaces it with the positive energy to continue your career goals and dreams.

Knowing the stages of grief over long-term unemployment provides an understanding of yourself and the permission to pursue that special job.

All Rights Reserved.  Copyright 2010

Dumont Gerken Owen, Ph.D.

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